7 Step Checklist for Betting on NFL Games

Betting Checklist Written on Clipboard With NFL Field Background

If you want to win more of your NFL bets, you need to learn how to find value before making your wagers. Once you learn how to find value, you need to use the same system and checklists for every game.

Most NFL bettors don’t use any type of checklist; and most NFL bettors lose. Here’s an easy to use seven step checklist that you should use for every NFL game you evaluate. Continue adding things to your checklist as you find new things that help you find value.

Eventually you’re going to create your own profitable system for evaluating NFL games.

1 – Understand and Use the Lines

NFL bettors have a wide range of options for placing wagers. The three main betting lines offered by most sportsbooks are the point spread, the moneyline, and totals. You need to learn how to use all three of these lines so you can look for value on every game.

The point spread is how most NFL gamblers start making bets. One team gets points and the other team gives the same number of points. You pay more than you can win when you place a bet, usually 10%, but you get your entire wager back when you win.

When you bet the moneyline, you pay a high price to bet on the favorite, but if you bet on the underdog you can win more than you have to risk.

When you bet on the totals line, you bet the combined score will be higher or lower than the posted line. A total bet also costs more than you can win, just like a point spread wager.

Familiarize yourself with all of the line and betting options in the NFL. Check the lines at multiple sportsbooks so you can find the best lines and find value on more NFL games.

2 – Look for Middle Profits

This is a trick or hack that I’ve been using for years. It’s not something that you can find every week, and it doesn’t turn huge bucks, but it does produce an overall profit. And anything that you can do that creates a long term profit betting on NFL games is something that you need to add to your gambling toolbox.

Middle profits are when you shop for lines and find two lines that let you bet on both with a chance to win both sides of a game, and limit your losses when you don’t win both sides.

Here’s an example of middle profits on the NFL:

You find lines at two sportsbooks on the same game that are different. At one sportsbook the home team is favored by 2 ½ and they’re favored by 3 ½ at the other. You place a bet on both sides of the game, and if the home team wins by three you win both sides.

NFL Player Celebrating

You bet on the road team and get 3 ½ points at one sportsbook, and bet on the home team and give 2 ½ points at the other sportsbook. When the home team wins by three, you win both bets.

When the home team doesn’t win by three points, you win one bet and lose the other. If you bet $110 to win $100 on both sides, your net loss is $10.

Most of the time you’re going to win one side and lose the other, but when the final score differential matches your magic middle number; you win $200 using the example above. This only needs to happen one out of 20 games that you middle to show an overall profit.

This is simply a way to profit from line differentials, and it’s not the only way you can do it. While it’s not easy to find and capitalize on, there are also NFL arbitrage opportunities from time to time. And none of these strategies require any handicapping ability.

3 – Watch Every Snap Every Week

Lazy NFL gamblers are always looking for an easy way to pick teams to bet on. They want to take a quick look at some stats and make a winning bet. Most of them watch a few NFL games every week, but they aren’t willing to do what winning NFL gamblers do.

If you want to find value to make good bets in the NFL, you have to watch the games. You simply can’t learn everything you need to learn from the stats and box scores. Some things can only be effectively evaluated by watching the action on the field.

The good news is that there are easy ways to watch all of the games. With games being available online and on television, with the right subscriptions you can watch every snap every week. When you start doing things that other gamblers are too lazy to do, you have a much better chance of making long term profits.

4 – Use Average per Attempt or Play

In the last section I explained how important it is to watch the games, but this doesn’t mean that you can ignore statistics. In fact, you need to use a combination of statistics and watching games if you want to do everything you can to make winning bets in the NFL.

But you have to learn how to use statistics the right way. One of the biggest mistakes you can make as an NFL handicapper is to look at overall statistics instead of converting them in a way that lets you evaluate teams and players on equal footing.

The best way to do this is to look at every statistic that you can, using average per attempt of average per play. Here’s a list of examples:

  • Average sacks per passing attempt, defense and offense.
  • Average yards per pass attempt, defense and offense.
  • Average yards per carry, defense and offense.
  • Average plays per game, defense and offense.
  • Average number of interceptions per pass attempt, defense and offense.

Any time you’re looking at stats in the NFL, try to figure out a way to convert them to an average. This is going to help you evaluate upcoming games and identify value.

5 – Evaluate Every Player on Each Side of the Ball

It’s easy to focus too much on skill position players on the offense and forget about other important areas. The offensive and defensive lines play a big part in the performance of each team, and lesser used offensive skill players like tight ends also are important.

Defensive backs and linebackers play an important role in each game as well.

NFL Quarterback Throwing the Ball

The point is that you have to evaluate every player on each side of the ball, not just the main players. When you’re evaluating NFL games for value, you can’t afford to ignore any players. When the difference between a profit and loss can be as small as one point in a game, you have to do everything to can to find an edge.

Lazy NFL gamblers don’t take the time to evaluate all of the players. But lazy NFL bettors don’t make long term profits.

6 – Know the Coaching Staffs

NFL head coaches and assistant coaches are usually ignored by NFL gamblers.

If the average NFL gambler does think about coaches, they usually just think about the coaches with the best reputation, but don’t really use the information when they evaluate games.

Coaching staffs are important in the NFL, even though the players get all of the credit and the blame. Don’t make the mistake of ignoring the influence of the coaching staffs on each side of NFL games. Of course, you also shouldn’t give too much weight to the coaching staffs either.

7 – Never Forget Special Teams

When you evaluate NFL games for betting purposes, do you even think about the special teams? If you’re like most NFL gamblers, you haven’t thought about the special teams in a long time.

But special teams play an important part in every NFL game. You need to evaluate the kickers, punters, coverage, and return teams for each team in order to do a complete job evaluating games and finding value.


Follow this simple seven step checklist when you’re betting on NFL games and you’re going to improve your results. Most NFL gamblers don’t follow any type of checklist or betting system, so just using something like this is going to put you a step ahead.

Every NFL bet starts with the available lines, so you need to make sure you understand them and figure out how to find value. Everything else you do, including the steps on this page, is about identifying value on NFL games and using it to make profitable bets.